The Curly Coated Retriever: Made with
Music in Mind?
Heelwork To Music (HTM) is where handlers devise a
routine to suit their chosen piece of music. Each
routine can be anything from 2 minutes and 30 seconds to
4 minutes in length. Heelwork To Music is split into two
1. Heelwork To Music: Mainly heelwork to music.
2. Freestyle: Anything goes.
Each dog and handler are judged on three elements,
which are each allocated a mark out of a maximum of ten,
these elements are:
Content of routine: The different variety of moves
a dog has been trained to perform.
Accuracy & Execution: How well each movement is
performed and how they ‘flow’ together.
Interpretation: How the handler has interpreted the
music & how the routine fits the music.
Heelwork To Music is judged by a panel of three
judges, with each judge covering all the three above
elements as to end up with a mark out of thirty, an
average is then taken and this is the final mark taken.
Anyone receiving a 25 or above should be over the moon.
Although the curly is not as ‘flashy’ or as ‘stylish’
as other breeds competing he certainly commands
attention wherever he goes.
There are some advantages of training a curly in HTM,
they include a deeper bond between dog and handler (due
to the many, many hours of motivational reward based
training) which can be seen by all. There is a lesser
fear of losing marks because of the dog barking when
being enthusiastic and energetic.
But most of all a sense of humour needed by both dog
and handler! (Also maybe a disadvantage)
The most satisfying moment is when the dog starts to
‘dance’ even before the music has even started. A
dog that is happy and enjoys what he is doing will
always put in one hundred percent.
Top picture: The bow
Right picture: Weaving through the legs.
Northern Mutts 'N' Music Association Open Heelwork To
Music Show, Sunday 26th May 2007
OK so we have
the (obvious) Border Collie, the Bearded Collie, the
Crossbreed, Spaniels, the Border Terrier and even the
German Shepherd Dog.... BUT a Curly Coated
On Sunday 26th
May 2007 ‘Spike’ (Kelsmere Kumera) was entered into his
first Kennel Club HTM Show Northern Mutts ‘N’ Music
Association in Co. Durham. After a few displays and
demonstrations, we were soon entered into our first
proper KC competition. Once we’d sent off our entries
there was only a month to finalise our routine, when
most competitors know exactly what they’re going to do.
I had only decided on the music.... which was to be
Total Eclipse Of The Heart by Bonnie Tyler, so the
pressure was on.
Believe it or
not, most of the training is done without the dog. As a
routine has to be devised to choreograph to the music
you have chosen. This involves listening over and over
again to the same (by now annoying) piece of music,
learning all the ins and outs. Then the hard part,
getting the dog to do what you have written on paper
when he is supposed to do it and the timing of how long
he has got to do that move before the music changes.
Much patience is required on both sides.
There was now a
week to go and I was still ‘tweaking’ (pretty much
starting over) the written routine. Spike knows what
commands go with which move so it was a matter of them
‘flowing’ together. Another very important factor that
has to be taken into consideration is that the dog has
to ‘fit‘ the piece of music, there are just certain
pieces they don‘t like and it shows when they work. HTM
is 100% praise based as in competitions there is no food
allowed. So he must want to ‘dance’ to please you.
Bribery not an option!
We had entered
in two classes, KC Freestyle Starters, and later on in
the evening Anything Goes. There were eleven entries in
each class. 96 overall. I had brought Spike into the
hall to acclimatise him. Everyone is allowed in the ring
for a practice (all at the same time) No-one is allowed
on him or her any toys or treats not even on their
person. But I had chose not to go in the ring. I worked
on the weave through
and on the counting for 2 minutes outside on the grass.
We then watched the other competitors, by the time it
was our go I was nervous as everyone so far had
completely different routines to what I had and the dogs
had worked well. We stepped into the ring; you have a
few seconds to get settled so I praised him up to get
started and we were off, Spike had gotten to know the
routine as well as I had so we both helped each other
out. When I was working him it was like there was only
us there, and the rest of the hall was empty (despite
there being nearly 150 people watching and not to
mention the panel of judges scrutinising every move) we
were alone. I had really enjoyed myself and Spike as
well; he was full of bounce and giving 100% effort. Now
the waiting began. ‘’All competitors back to the ring,’’
commanded the show secretary. Placings were read
backwards. She got to 5th we were still there, I was
thinking brilliant we might manage 2 points at our first
show, no 4th came and went, then 3rd and then 2nd
(surely) YES we were 2nd!! 6 points. & only 0.19 marks
from 1st. We were delighted he worked beautifully.
goes class was much later on, we were 3rd in the running
order. This class was open to every one of all abilities
i.e. competitors qualified for novice etc. Spike worked
well again but he wasn’t quite as good as he was in the
morning, I watched the others and was amazed by the
standard and ingenuity by some. Quick as a flash we were
in the ring for placing, 4th came and went as did 3rd,
brilliant 2 seconds I thought, but 2nd came and
went....that left FIRST... I couldn’t believe it..
Spike obviously thought he’d put in the most work as he
proudly carried his rosettes and trophy back to the car.
Of course afterwards he was spoilt rotten, and slept all
the way home under the quilted duvet! I was very proud
of him and he knew it.
And that was our
introduction to KC competitive HTM. That neither of us
& Kelsmere Kumera (‘Spike’) Photo’s courtesy of James
Swan (Cygnet images)
Kelsmere Kumera FS
Kelsmere Kumera FS
St Ex Htm St P-Beg Ex